The primary difference between at-fault and no-fault insurance coverage is the right to sue the party who caused a car accident. Another distinction is who is financially liable for an accident victim’s damages. Continue reading to learn more about the differences between these insurance coverages and how they affect a car accident claim in Florida.
Florida Is a No-Fault Car Insurance State
State law dictates whether a state is an at-fault insurance state or no-fault insurance state. Only 12 states are no-fault states, including Florida. The laws governing no-fault insurance vary by state.
All drivers in Florida must have no-fault insurance coverage. You must maintain $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. However, no-fault insurance requirements do not apply to motorcycles in Florida.
How Does No-Fault Insurance Work in Florida?
If you are involved in a traffic accident, you must file a claim with your PIP provider, regardless of who caused the car crash. Your no-fault insurance coverage pays for up to 80 percent of your reasonable and necessary medical bills and up to 60 percent of your loss of income.
Even though PIP is no-fault insurance, insurance companies may deny insurance claims. For example, a driver must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the car accident to receive PIP benefits under Florida law.
Florida insurance law states that drivers can only sue a party who caused a car crash when the driver sustained serious injuries. The serious injury threshold is defined in Florida Statute §627.737.
A plaintiff may sue the at-fault driver if the injury caused by the accident results in:
- Significant and permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- A permanent injury other than scarring or disfigurement that is supported by a reasonable degree of medical probability
Unfortunately, the compensation paid by no-fault insurance is extremely limited. Your compensation may be limited when you sustain only minor injuries. Furthermore, no-fault insurance does not compensate accident victims for non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering).
How is Fault Insurance Different From No-Fault Insurance?
No-fault insurance states require drivers to go through their own PIP insurance coverage first, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. On the other hand, fault insurance states allow the injured party to recover compensation from the at-fault party’s liability insurance without the requirement of collecting from their own policy first. Additionally, fault insurance states allow injured parties to sue the at-fault driver without a specific requirement like Florida’s “serious injury” threshold.
Most at-fault states require drivers to purchase minimum amounts of liability insurance. An insured driver’s liability insurance pays for a third party’s damages when the insured was at fault for the cause of the accident.
An accident victim may sue the at-fault driver for damages if they do not enter a settlement agreement with the insurance company. However, before recovering damages, the accident victim has the burden of proving fault, causation, and liability.
In a personal injury case, the victim must prove that:
- The driver owed a duty of care to the victim and breached that duty;
- The driver caused the car accident;
- The collision resulted in injuries; and
- The victim sustained damages.
If the accident victim cannot prove the elements of a negligence claim, they cannot recover compensation for their damages.
Damages Available in a Car Accident Case in Florida
If you sustain serious injuries due to a car crash, you can sue the at-fault driver for damages. The types of damages you receive could include economic damages and non-economic damages. The damages available in a personal injury case are far more extensive than the benefits provided by PIP insurance.
Damages that you can recover from an at-fault driver include:
- Cost of medical treatment, including therapies and nursing care
- Assistance with personal care and household chores
- Loss of income, lost wages, and benefits
- Disabilities, impairments, and disfigurements
- Reductions in future earning potential
- Loss of enjoyment of life or quality of life
- Pain and suffering caused by mental anguish, physical injuries, and emotional distress
How much you receive for a personal injury claim depends on many factors. Your injuries and financial losses are significant factors in determining the value of your case. However, the availability of insurance coverage and the parties involved in the case can also impact the compensation you could receive for damages.
What Should You Do to Protect Your Right to Sue a Driver in Florida?
If another driver caused your car crash, seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. You must have medical evidence proving that you sustained an injury that meets the serious injury threshold for suing the at-fault driver.
You must file a claim with your PIP insurance provider for benefits even though you intend to pursue a claim against the other driver. Your PIP benefits can help pay for medical expenses and reimburse some of your lost wages while you work with a Miami car accident lawyer to file a personal injury claim.
It is important to remember that your statements could impact your ability to recover maximum compensation for a car accident claim. Therefore, avoid discussing the car accident at the accident scene. However, try to obtain the names and contact information of eyewitnesses.
If possible, document the accident scene by taking photographs and videos. However, do not place yourself or others in danger. When you hire an accident attorney, the attorney will investigate the cause of the accident and gather evidence proving fault.
Contact a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
No-fault and at-fault insurance laws are complex, and Florida’s insurance laws can be confusing. Contact an experienced Miami personal injury attorney to discuss your car accident case. A personal injury lawyer will help you recover the compensation you deserve after a negligent driver causes you injury and damages.